Here's a look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
The safety was their most dynamic player, described recently by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams as a potential Pro Football Hall of Famer. It isn't easy to replace a player of that caliber, but the situation isn't hopeless.
Along with draft picks, the Jets received longtime starter Bradley McDougald, who replaced Kam Chancellor in the Seattle Seahawks' once feared secondary. The Jets have big plans for McDougald, who will get first dibs at strong safety.
McDougald, 29, was an undrafted free agent who made himself into a serviceable starter (75 starts). He doesn't have Adams' speed, but he's surprisingly good in man-to-man coverage. Pro Football Focus ranked him fourth among safeties in man-to-man the past two seasons.
Because he's a box safety, McDougald's skills should complement those of free safety Marcus Maye, who is entering a contract year and will have a chance to be the leader of the secondary.
The Jets also expect third-round pick Ashtyn Davis to make an immediate contribution. He's bright, tough, competitive and ultra-athletic, with the ability to play free and strong safety. He has "Gregg Williams' kind of player" written all over him, so don't be surprised if he secures a role.
Williams is the ideal coach in this situation because he's resourceful and finds ways to move his chess pieces around the board. (See: last season's juggling at cornerback and linebacker.) In previous stops, he has taken nickelbacks and converted them into safeties. He's a big believer in cross training.
Don't be surprised if the Jets add a safety at some point. There are some interesting names on the market, including Eric Reid.
Not only do they have to replace Adams' production (6.5 sacks and one interception), but they will also have to fill the energy void. Adams was a catalyst; not even a wily coach such as Williams can manufacture that. Although he isn't as fiery as Adams, linebacker C.J. Mosley's return to the lineup surely will help.
2. Crunching numbers: McDougald will bring a $4.1 million charge to the Jets' salary cap -- $3.6 million in non-guaranteed salary, plus $500,000 in weekly roster bonuses. His contract will expire after the season, which will give the Jets greater cap flexibility in 2021 -- and they will need every little bit.
Because of an anticipated shortfall in revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic, the cap could drop as low as $175 million from $198.2 million, the current ceiling. That will crush some teams, but the Jets will be in relatively decent shape. They have $158 million committed to the 2021 cap, according to overthecap.com. That includes Adams' $9.9 million salary, which comes off the books.
As for this year, the Jets had $21 million in cap space after signing their draft picks and before the trade. A lot of fans might be wondering, "How are they going to spend it?"
Answer: They might not.
Unless a quality player unexpectedly becomes available, my sense is the Jets will be content to carry the bulk of the unused cap space into 2021. That might not excite the fan base, but it's wise, long-term planning. That nest egg will come in handy in a post-pandemic (we hope) NFL.
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3. Holding pattern: Jets owner Woody Johnson, the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, was investigated last fall by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of State after allegations that he made racist and sexist comments. A report is forthcoming, a State Department spokesperson said in an email to ESPN.
If the investigation concludes that Johnson made such remarks, he should be held accountable by the government and the NFL. Owners, like players, are subject to the league's personal conduct policy. Johnson's ability to lead the franchise upon his return from London would be compromised if the accusations prove to be true. He issued a denial on Twitter.
4. Big man, big challenge: With no preseason games, the Jets will be hard-pressed to get their rookies up to speed by the season opener. It isn't an ideal situation because they're counting on one of them -- left tackle Mekhi Becton -- to be a Day 1 starter. They recognize the challenge, but my sense is that they're still betting heavily on Becton, who was drafted 11th overall for a reason.
It will be incumbent upon coach Adam Gase to create competitive situations in practice, which will help Becton get acclimated to the speed of the NFL. Nothing beats an actual game, though. One of the benefits of the preseason is the gradual uptick in speed in each game, which provides the ideal prep for the regular season.
"It's going to be a challenge," said former NFL offensive lineman Damien Woody, an ESPN analyst. "All I can say is, 'Buckle up. It'll be a wild ride with no preseason games.'"
Woody said he believes Becton should start immediately. "Everybody has to deal with a trial by fire," he said. "To get better and better, you have to play."
It's rare for a highly drafted offensive tackle to open the season on the bench. Since 2010, 20 of the 23 tackles picked in the top 20 were opening-day starters. The most recent player who failed to crack a Week 1 lineup was the St. Louis Rams' Greg Robinson (second overall, 2014), who didn't get the nod until Week 5.
Obviously, the current landscape is different because of the pandemic.
If Becton isn't ready to protect quarterback Sam Darnold's blind side, the Jets are confident in their Plan B: veteran George Fant, whom they signed as a free agent. Fant offers position flexibility because he can play left and right tackle.
5. Hope for Darnold: Le'Veon Bell always has something interesting to say. In a recent radio interview with Hot 97 in New York, the running back addressed Darnold, the challenge of Gase's offense and how he expects the third-year quarterback to improve in 2020.
"This offense isn't easy to learn," Bell said. "I've been playing football for a long time. This is one of the hardest offenses I've ever had to play in, so for a quarterback to learn it straight out of his rookie year ... it was going to be tough. But I think coming into the second year in this offense, it's going to be even better for him because he'll have a better understanding, and he can be more comfortable.
"He'll know where to go with the ball quicker. He'll know where his checkdown is. He'll be more comfortable with everything -- the plays and the audibling and the hot routes and maybe calling screens, whatever. So I think this second year will be a lot better for him."
They'd better hope Bell is right.
6. By the numbers: NFL Next Gen Stats has created a new metric: expected rushing yards per carry. The Jets ranked 32nd (3.81 yards), confirming what we already knew: The offensive line stunk. But it's unfair to put all the blame on the line. For instance, Bell's expected rush was 3.7, but he produced 0.41 yards below that number. Translation: He didn't hold up his end of the bargain, either.
7. Did you know? Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, he of the $503 million contract, has only a $5.4 million cap charge in 2020. The Jets have 12 players with higher cap charges than that of Mahomes, none of whom has been selected to the Pro Bowl in a Jets uniform.